Pakistan emergency: Civil society and Church appeal for respect of human rights

 Civil society in Pakistan has called on President Pervez Musharraf to guarantee respect for basic human rights and freedoms, after he proclaimed a state of emergency, and reaffirmed military power in the country this week. Musharraf also suspended the constitution, restricted freedom of media and dismissed the chief of the supreme court Iftikhar Chaudhry. The General responded to peaceful protests with a massive deployment of soldiers and the arrest of lawyers and human rights activists. Many associations, including the Justice and Peace commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Commission for Peace and Human Development have condemned the measures taken by Musharraf and army violence on civilians, demanding the immediate persons arrested release. Recently 55 lawyers and human rights activists gathered under the aegis of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission were arrested for taking part in an 'illegal assembly'. The Commission for Peace and Human Development condemned abuse and violence and with a forum of secular and Christian pro-human rights organisations at the national level, called attention to the theme of rights and justice and that this battle leads to real economic, social and cultural progress for the nation. In the meantime more anti-Musharraf street protests are taking place. Hundreds of lawyers took to the streets in Islamabad, defying rigid security measures, to protest against the decision taken by President Musharraf to proclaim a state of emergency. Source: Fides

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